A long time ago, but many, many years after the original iconic “Star Trek” television show had been off the air (it ran from 1966 to 1969), I came up with my own “Star Trek” theory. It was the mid-Eighties, and I was at a dance club on Fire Island outside of New York City during cocktail hour, and there on the television screens was the show, running silently as “Don’t You Want Me Baby” blared from the speakers. And thus my theory was born, which is that for us baby boomers, friends come and go, the people you are with change as time goes by, but the single constant is “Star Trek.” It is always lurking somewhere, totally intertwined in our zeitgeist.
So it makes perfect sense that 25 years after I posited that theory to my laughing friends (you know it is true, come on!), here I am writing about a brand new “Star Trek” movie that is populated with the same characters as the original TV series.
In this restart of the venerable franchise created by the late Gene Roddenberry way back when, we meet Kirk, Spock, Bones, Uhura, Scotty, Chekov, and Sulu at the beginning of their Starfleet careers, and see them all board the new Starship Enterprise space ship. The youthful versions of those much-loved characters – Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho – have all done their homework, bringing just the right touches to their performances. Each one, with Urban and Pegg being standouts as Bones and Scotty, are completely believable as the characters we have been watching for more than forty years.
They harken back to the old, but the rest of “Star Trek” is eye-poppingly new, especially if you are lucky enough to experience it on a giant IMAX screen. The sequences in space (and there are plenty of those) are breathtakingly beautiful, and when the Enterprise goes into warp drive, you feel like you are hurtling through space along with it.
The plot is mostly believable but slightly convoluted, as Spock both old and new – with Leonard Nimoy reprising his iconic role, the only original to make a return in this film – wander across time and space. Eric Bana shines as Nero, the Romulan with a giant, powerful spaceship and a big axe to grind; his evil anguish is a strong through line in this exciting adventure tale.
All in all, the new “Star Trek” is a brash, exciting restart to the franchise that continues to infuse our lives; can there be any doubt that it will be alive and well long after those of us that have been there from the beginning are long gone?
Stars: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Eric Bana, Bruce Greenwood, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, Simon Pegg, John Cho, Anton Yelchin, Leonard Nimoy, Ben Cross, Winona Ryder
Director: J. J. Abrams
Release date: 5/8/09
Studio/Official Site: http://www.startrekmovie.com/